On the Net ... with UPI

By CHRIS H. SIEROTY, UPI Technology Correspondent


In an effort to compete against its larger rival, has begun offering a service to run e-tailing sites. In February, the privately held company created a new e-commerce unit called United Commerce Services. UCS will manage inventory, e-mail marketing, shipping, customer service and site control for Sherman Atkinson, president of UCS, told UPI's On the Net that the firm's first client is Fandango Inc. Financial terms were not disclosed. Located in Santa Monica, Calif., Fandango is an online movie ticket seller that also sells music and videos and offers print-at-home ticketing. The service is available in 40 cities nationwide. The deal extends Fandango's operations from simply selling movie tickets to providing clients with access to some 1.3 million products through's six retail categories: music, videos, DVDs, games, books and magazines. Atkinson said the deal with Fandango was the first in a series of agreements to be announced in the next month. He said unlike,'s UCS handles shipping and managing of a company's inventory. Currently, provides outsourced e-tailing for Target, Office Depot and Toys R Us.



Palm Inc.'s software unit has begun shipping its own Web browser. PalmSource, a maker of operating systems for handheld devices, said it began shipping its own Web browser to Palm OS licensees. "We have seen a rapid growth in the number of mobile Internet users and believe that with improved Web browsing capability, we will attract an even larger audience for wireless handhelds and smart phones," said Steve Sakoman, chief product officer at PalmSource. Almost 10 million active Internet users in the United States access the Internet via mobile phones and handheld computers, according to comScore Media Metrix. "We still expect the transition to new products based on Palm OS v 5.0 and ARM architecture will act as catalysts for renewed investor interest and a higher share price," said UBS Warburg analyst Don Young in a recent research note. Young said PalmSource accounts for 85 percent of the operating system market for handhelds.


School administrators along with students, teachers, parents and school librarians rallied against federal mandates for Internet blocking or filtering software in public schools. The rallies, which were held Wednesday in Boston, San Francisco and New York, urged repeal of the Children's Internet Protection Act. The controversial legislation requires public schools and libraries receiving certain federal funds or discounts for Internet connections to install a "technology protection measure" to block Internet access to materials that are harmful to minors." Marjorie Heins, director of the Free Expression Policy Project, described CIPA as one of the "more massive" giveaways to a private industry in recent memory. "It also turns over educational decisions about what students should read and learn to these private companies, which will not even reveal their lists of blocked sites." Will Doherty, a spokesman for the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, told UPI's On the Net that educating students on how to use the Internet properly was more important than blocking access or requiring school districts to use expensive filtering software. "I think people are looking for a quick technology fix for a social problem," Doherty said. "The fix is not there."



The Business Software Alliance said it was willing to work with the Bush administration to forge greater private-public partnerships to defend the nation's critical infrastructures from cyber attacks. "This plan recognizes that everyone who uses a computer has a role and stake in securing the networks that drive nearly every aspect of our daily lives and the world's economy," said Robert Holleyman, president of the BSA. "It also recognizes the need to give everyone a voice in developing the very complex solutions." The Bush administration's cybersecurity proposal offers security recommendations to home users, businesses, industries and government agencies and fixes for the Internet's data highways. Richard Clarke, the president's adviser for cybersecurity, said the proposal also encourages the businesses and private citizens, who control at least 85 percent of the global computer network, to adopt better security practices on their own. "We all remember the dire Y2K warnings of transportation and financial systems shutting down and everything from water and electric supplies being corrupted," said Holleyman. "None of that happened, of course, because there was an aggressive, international effort to update the world's computers and information networks."



Fans of beauty pageants can log on Friday at 6 p.m. EDT to catch the Miss Venezuela pageant. The organizers of the event will broadcast this year's pageant online at thanks to a deal between television network Venevision and content delivery provider InSpace. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. For $4.99, broadband users from Chile to Canada can watch the three-hour show on their monitor. "For years, the world has watched our beauties crowned in international competition," said Manuel Fraiz-Grijalba, executive vice president of Venevision. "Now, as a result of streaming technology employed by InSpace and the advent of high-speed Internet, pageant lovers will get a first-hand look at where it all begins." Fraiz-Grijalba said the Miss Venezuela broadcast, which on average captures 74 percent of the Venezuelan television market share for Venevision, will also be available to users on demand for one month following the original pageant date.


For $10 a day, customers who stay at Marriott hotels in Washington, D.C. will have access to high-speed Internet services and unlimited local and long distance phone calls within the U.S. The Bethesda, Md., company brought the service to Washington after testing began last year in Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Denver, San Diego, Oakland, and Anaheim, Calif. "Many of our guests expressed a preference for all of their communications needs to be bundled and offered for one price," said Lou Paladeau, Marriott's vice president of technology business development. Paladeau said guests can request the service at the hotel's front desk during check-in. The system work with any Internet-compatible laptop or PC, and guests are offered a 24-hour toll-free customer assistance line.


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